Remembering the victims of ‘honour-based’ crimes

Today we take time to remember those murdered in so called ‘honour killings’, and to shine a spotlight on cases of domestic abuse and violence within families and communities where perceived ‘honour’ is a contributing factor.

‘Honour-based’ crime is often linked to the belief that someone has bought shame on their family or community by doing something that is not in keeping with the traditions and beliefs of that culture. Women and girls are the most common victims, although it can also affect men and boys too.

The date of July 14 was chosen as a day of memory to mark the birthday of Bradford-born Shafilea Ahmed who was murdered by her parents in 2003. Shafilea’s killing followed years of abuse from her family for, what they perceived as, becoming too westernised.

There are estimated to be 12 honour killings a year in the UK. Fortunately, here in Gwent, there have been no cases as far as we know.

These are incredibly complex crimes. In many cases the victims are largely unaware a crime is taking place, believing the abuse to be normal, even acceptable, behaviour. Asking a victim to report a crime can be asking them to walk away from everything they know and love; their family, their friends and their community. As such, we know that these crimes will be heavily under reported. The pandemic will only have made this worse.

In Gwent we have convened a working group to take an in-depth look at this issue across the region. Working with our partners in Welsh Government, Gwent Police, local authorities and support agencies, we will ensure that a knowledge and understanding of honour-based crimes is embedded within public services in Gwent. This will enable us to provide a consistent, considered and confident approach to dealing with honour-based crimes in our communities, and in the response we provide to victims.

There is no quick fix to this problem but we can, as colleagues, friends and neighbours, play our part in recognising the signs that abuse is taking place. The Welsh Government has produced a guide of potential indicators that abuse may be taking place and it is worth us all taking the time to familiarise ourselves with this.

Above all we must be clear that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.

If you are experiencing abuse, or are worried about someone, then help is available. Please don’t suffer in silence.

Victims can report incidents to Gwent Police via 101, or call 999 in an emergency.

If you don’t want to report to the police, help is also available through specialist support services:

BAWSO: Provides specialist support services for Black minority ethnic residents.
Website: https://bawso.org.uk/
Phone: 08007318147

Connect Gwent: Offers a wide range of victim support services. You do not have to report a crime to the police to access these services.
Website: www.umbrellacymru.co.uk/connect-gwent
Phone: 0300 123 2133

Live Fear Free: Free Welsh Government helpline giving information and advice for people suffering with domestic abuse or sexual violence.
Website: https://gov.wales/live-fear-free
Phone: 0808 8010 800.